LONDON BRIEFING: Hargreaves Lansdown says activity gets lockdown boost

(Alliance News) - Retail investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown said on Wednesday that trading ...

Alliance News 17 March, 2021 | 8:10AM
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(Alliance News) - Retail investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown said on Wednesday that trading in January had been similar to previous lockdown periods, with strong dealing volumes, significant engagement from clients, and robust net new business and net new client numbers.

The stock broker and fund supermarket said it continued to see elevated volumes of trading since the end of January, with an increased proportion of that directed towards international equities - driven by interest in US stocks from existing clients.

As a result, Hargreaves Lansdown expects pretax profit for the financial year ending June 30, to be modestly above the top end of analyst expectations.

The current range of company-collected analyst expectations for financial 2021 pretax profit is between GBP334 million and GBP360 million. Hargreaves posted pretax profit of GBP378.3 million in financial 2020.

Hargreaves Lansdown shares were up 2.4% early Wednesday.

Here is what you need to know at the London market open:

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MARKETS

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FTSE 100: down 0.1% at 6,799.97

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Hang Seng: down 10.98 points at 29,016.71

Nikkei 225: closed 6.76 points lower at 29,914.33

DJIA: closed down 127.51 points, 0.4%, at 32,825.95

S&P 500: closed down 0.2% at 3,962.71

Nasdaq Composite: closed up 0.1% at 13,471.57

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EUR: up at USD1.1900 (USD1.1894)

GBP: up at USD1.3912 (USD1.3886)

USD: up at JPY109.12 (JPY109.02)

Gold: up at USD1,735.21 per ounce (USD1,729.46)

Oil (Brent): up at USD68.70 a barrel (USD68.28)

(changes since previous London equities close)

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ECONOMICS AND GENERAL

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Wednesday's Key Economic Events still to come

1100 CET EU consumer price index

1100 CET EU construction output

0700 EDT US MBA weekly mortgage applications survey

0830 EDT US housing starts and building permits

1030 EDT US EIA weekly petroleum status report

1400 EDT US Federal Reserve interest rate decision

1400 EDT US Fed economic projections

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UK government ministers are pledging to build the world's first low-carbon industrial sector as they detail GBP1 billion of spending to reduce emissions from businesses, hospitals and schools, PA reports. Business & Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is to publish the government's Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy on Wednesday as part of plans to reverse the climate crisis. It was billed as a major blueprint to help reach the target of reaching net zero by 2050 that will also create 80,000 jobs across the UK over the next three decades. But environmentalists accused the government of giving "handouts for the fossil fuel industry", and Labour said the plan "doesn't deliver with nearly the scale or ambition that's necessary". The GBP1 billion of funding was announced last year, but ministers were setting out how it will be spent in a bid to cut emissions by two-thirds in 15 years.

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BROKER RATING CHANGES

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JPMORGAN RAISES ROLLS-ROYCE TO 'NEUTRAL' (UNDERWEIGHT) - PRICE TARGET 105 (45) PENCE

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BERENBERG INITIATES MONDI PLC WITH 'HOLD' - TARGET 1790 PENCE

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BERENBERG RAISES DS SMITH TO 'BUY' ('HOLD') - TARGET 475 (290) PENCE

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BERENBERG STARTS SMURFIT KAPPA WITH 'BUY' - PRICE TARGET 47.50 EUR

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COMPANIES - FTSE 100

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Vodafone Group's mobile towers business has narrowed the price range for its stock market listing in Frankfurt to the lower half of its original target, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday. Vantage Towers AG has revised the range for the initial public offering to between EUR24 and EUR25 per share from the original EUR22.50 to EUR29, Bloomberg said, citing deal terms it has seen. At the EUR22.50 to EUR29.00 price range set last week, Vantage Towers would have a market capitalisation of between EUR11.4 billion and EUR14.7 billion, Vodafone had said.

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COMPANIES - FTSE 250

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Ferrexpo said it has been able to deliver a strong financial performance, alongside healthy shareholder returns, through "consistent investment and capital management". For 2020, the miner reported revenue of USD1.7 billion, up 13% from USD1.5 billion in 2019, and pretax profit of USD747.9 million, up 63% from USD459.6 million. Ferrexpo said 2020 iron ore pellet production was up 7% to 11.2 million tonnes from 10.5 million tonnes. Ferrexpo said that, in light of its strong operational and financial performance, coupled with its transition to a net cash position and continued healthy iron ore prices, it has declared a further special interim dividend of 39.6 US cents, bringing total dividends paid in respect of 2020 to 72.6 US cents. Ferrexpo said it will consider a final dividend for 2020 as well, which if proposed, will be put to vote at its AGM in May. Ferrexpo is based in Baar, Switzerland but mines for iron ore in Ukraine.

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SSP Group said it intends to raise gross proceeds of GBP475 million by way of a fully underwritten 12 for 25 rights issue, its food concessions in airports and rail stations having been badly damaged by Covid-related travel restrictions throughout 2020. Further, SSP said it has secured the extension of its bank facilities that were previously due to mature in July 2022 to January 2024, and secured waivers and modifications of the existing covenants under those bank facilities and its US private placement notes. These agreements are conditional on the equity raise. SSP said it is "strategically well-positioned" to benefit from the recovery in the travel sector. It expects a near full return of passenger numbers to pre-Covid levels by financial year 2024 led by a rebound in domestic and leisure short-haul air and rail travel.

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Unvaccinated holidaymakers will be banned from summer staycation sailings operated by P&O Cruises this summer, Carnival said. Only UK residents who have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine at least seven days in advance will be permitted onboard, the cruise line said. Failure to provide proof of the jabs "will result in denial of boarding", the firm warned. This is a "strong expressed preference on the part of our clients", it added. Other measures introduced due to the pandemic include requiring passengers to wear masks in some areas of the ship, and making travel insurance mandatory. There will also be enhanced cleaning regimes and social distancing, while buffet food will be served by staff. Cruise holidays are traditionally popular with older people, who have been prioritised in the UK's vaccination programme.

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COMPANIES - MAIN MARKET AND AIM

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Funeral services provider Dignity swung to a GBP19.6 million loss in 2020 from a GBP44.1 million profit the year before. This was despite a 14% increase in deaths last year to 663,000 from 584,000. Revenue rose by 5% to GBP357.5 million in the financial year that ended December 25 from GBP338.9 million in the financial year that ended December 27, 2019. While the 14% increase in the UK death toll was related to Covid-19, the restrictions put in place by the government to combat the pandemic held back revenue growth, Dignity said. "Whilst Covid-19 featured heavily in our day-to-day activities into the first quarter of 2021, we did not lose sight of the numerous project work-streams initiated in the last year, aimed at affording the board the time and collateral necessary to allow the business to self-heal, without recourse to dilutive funding initiatives," said Chair Clive Whiley.

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Wednesday's Shareholder Meetings

Aura Energy Ltd - AGM

Safestore Holdings PLC - AGM

Scapa Group PLC - GM re cash offer by AMS Holdco 2 Ltd

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By Tom Waite; thomaslwaite@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2021 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar
Rating
Dignity PLC 660.00 GBX 2.48 -
Hargreaves Lansdown PLC 1,697.00 GBX 1.62 -
Smith (DS) PLC 413.10 GBX -0.19 -
Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC 102.82 GBX 2.95
Mondi PLC 1,980.50 GBX 0.66 -
Smurfit Kappa Group PLC 3,508.00 GBX -0.37 -
Smurfit Kappa Group PLC 40.42 EUR -1.13 -

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